Seldom has there been an album that seems so concerned with the economy of how much musical content can be packed into a brief allotment of time as “The Folded Palm,” the latest disc from the unclassifiable British Columbian group Frog Eyes. The tracks run together flawlessly, sometimes indiscernibly into a cohesive, unrelenting freak out of catharsis and melodrama. “The Folded Palm” is the apex of punk, art and everything else.
Rattling drums propel the album forward, blasting through track after track of rock ‘n’ roll, but never slowing down enough to ponder any of the conventions of the form such as structure, melody or dynamics. The musicianship is amazing; it’s one of those things were the songs sound so disordered that it seems impossible to get everyone on the same page, much less rock the house as much as Frog Eyes is able to.
Front man Carey Mercer definitely is the focal point of the album, with his vocals pushed way to the front of the mix, center stage. He is a vocalist who is totally unencumbered by any sense of decorum. His pipes are of the caliber of David Bowie, but he sings with the abandon of Don Van Vliet, or for a more modern comparison, Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu. Indeed, comparisons of Frog Eyes to Xiu Xiu are understandable and not unwarranted, if a little misleading. Frog Eyes are more extroverted and grand in scale than Xiu Xiu, who are more content to document the many shades of internal torment that exist on street level.
Frog Eyes is a band whose confidence is its strongest asset, and for once, is not founded in some misconceived notion of its own greatness.